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Your Selfies' Metadata May Be Too Revealing

By Jenny Tsay, Esq. | Last updated on

Beyond revealing what you look like, selfies containing metadata can reveal your exact location -- which means the person receiving your selfie can potentially figure out where you live.

Metadata can include GPS information, the date and time the photo was taken, and information on how and what conditions the photos were taken in, according to Cypher Avenue. Simple computer programs, like Apple's iPhoto application, can reveal the metadata information.

So why should you consider removing metadata from your selfies, and how do you do it?

Why Should You Remove Metadata?

The primary reason to remove metadata from your selfies is to protect your privacy. For example, if you engage in online dating and you send a selfie to a prospective date, it's possible that person could figure out your exact location and show up unexpectedly.

When it comes to legal ramifications, selfies have been used to arrest criminals. Although these cases typically occur when police identify crooks post incriminating selfies of themselves, in theory, investigators can look up the metadata attached to those photos to determine when and where they were taken and see if that information coincides with the reported crime.

In fact, remember antivirus software pioneer John McAfee, who was wanted by authorities in Belize after his neighbor was found dead? Well he was arrested after a photo with metadata disclosed his location.

How to Remove Metadata From Selfies

Although it's a good idea to make your social network profiles private so unwanted people don't access your information, you should also remove metadata from selfies and other photos.

To remove the GPS information from your photo, you must change the settings on your camera phone. According to Cypher Avenue, here's how to do it if you have an iPhone:

  1. Open up your Settings.
  2. Select the Privacy option and choose the Location Services settings.
  3. Under Location Settings, you'll see all the applications on your phone that stores and uses your location information. From that list, select the Camera option and toggle the function to Off.

Once the Camera option is turned off under Location Settings, your iPhone won't store GPS information unless toggle the switch to On again. So depending on the type of camera you have, the instructions for removing metadata will vary.

Metadata can be useful in helping you remember when a selfie was taken, but by making your location information less accessible, you may be able to shield yourself from legal consequences.

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